Most people have driven by horrific tractor-trailer jackknife, rollover, and override crashes that cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Big-rigs can weigh in excess of 25 times more than a typical sedan, which increases the danger for occupants of passenger cars struck by large trucks. Accidents involving commercial trucks can result from a range of factors including fatigue, inattention, unsafe speed, improper loads, faulty maintenance, and other negligent or unlawful practices. Although trucking companies and commercial drivers can be financially responsible for accidents resulting from violations of traffic laws, regulatory violations, and deviations from industry safety practices, trucking accident lawsuits can present evidentiary challenges for personal injury and wrongful death victims.
Black Boxes Provide Critical Evidence in Trucking Cases
Fortunately, many commercial trucks are equipped with an event data recorder (EDR), which is also referred to as a “black box.” A favorable outcome in a trucking accident lawsuit often turns on the information stored by this electronic device. Data stored in a black box can be erased when a semi-truck is put back in service. However, Orlando Trucking Accident Lawyer Mark Cressman is proactive in protecting the information recorded by this device, which can constitute a “smoking gun” in trucking litigation. EDRs are similar to black boxes used by commercial airlines to determine the cause of a crash. Some of the information that might be stored includes:
• Engagement of the clutch
• Engine RPMs
• GPS location of the vehicle at the time of the collision
• Speed of the truck prior to the crash
• Email communication between the commercial carrier and driver
• Sudden hard braking
• Improper tire pressure
This information can be vital in analyzing the events leading up to a crash especially when working with an accident reconstruction expert. Aside from providing direct evidence regarding the cause of a semi-truck collision, black box data also might expose altered records and misrepresentations. Although big-rig drivers are required to keep records of their on-duty time and hours on the road, this potentially valuable evidence of driver fatigue is routinely falsified. Black box data can expose schemes to “cook the books.”
Preservation of Information Stored in Electronic Data Recorders
Mr. Cressman recognizes the importance of prompt action to avoid the loss of this critical evidence. Our law firm routinely sends a spoliation notice to the trucking company that advices the commercial carrier that the truck and the information stored on the data recorder are the subject of litigation. This notice warns the commercial carrier that destruction or alteration of the black box data will result in a motion for sanctions in the form of attorney fees and impairment of the company’s defense. The judge might instruct a jury to pre-determine the issue in favor of the injury victim or indicate that the evidence will be presumed to have been favorable to the plaintiff.
If there is reason to suspect the trucking company will ignore the spoliation notice, Mr. Cressman might even file for an injunction against the trucking company that prohibits altering the EDR. The Cressman Law Firm strives to obtain the fullest compensation for trucking accident victims in Orlando and throughout the Central Florida surrounding counties. Mr. Cressman has successfully represented hundreds upon hundreds of clients during the last two decades. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a negligent truck driver or commercial carrier, Mark invites you to call us today to schedule a free consultation at (407) 877-7317.